Watermark “By Right”

The Watermark six-building apartment rental complex is scheduled to be constructed on a decades old 2.37 acre dirt lot on the corner of Jimmy Durante Blvd. and San Dieguito Drive near the traffic circle. It will feature an “agrarian” architectural theme housing 50 total units including 10 low income set aside units. The application is nearing completion with sign-offs already from Engineering and Fire.


Because of some inept political maneuvering by Council Members Gaasterland, Druker, and Martinez the review is “by right,” meaning ministerial only. There will be no public involvement, no Planning Commission review, no Design Review Board review, no appeal option, no conditional use permitting, and no City Council review. All of the project detailed reviews and the “exceptional benefits” under the previous Specific Plan process are no longer possible. The Planning Department will conduct a review using “objective criteria” and make the final decision. The City decision is subject to a 10-working-day appeal period with the California Coastal Commission.


This “by right” process is what loss of local control looks like. More of this kind of mandated development is what can continue to happen if we continue to resist implementing plans to achieve our fair share of the state effort to solve a gigantic state-wide housing shortage.


More of The Watermark application details:

  • 10 lower income units comprised of one studio, five 1 bedroom (BR), four 2 BRs, two 3 BRs ranging from 596 square feet to 1,225.
  • four stories including a parking podium
  • maximum height 47.6 feet with Base flood Elevation 18 feet
  • 79,559 square feet residential (.77 Floor Area Ratio: FAR); 53,335 parking (.52 FAR). Total FAR 1.29
  • 51% lot coverage
  • 105 parking stalls

The applicant is requesting “concessions” and “waivers” from State Density Bonus Law:

  • 40% to 51% increase in lot coverage
  • reduced wetland buffer from 100 to 50ft
  • 2 to 4 increase in stories
  • height increase from 14 ft(BSC Overlay) to 47.6
  • 10% encroachment into steep slopes
  • FAR increase from .3 to 1.29, .77 for residential

Quite remarkably, the size of this project could have been almost 50% larger if the applicant had chosen to employ the full extent of the “by right” provisions.


Once the application is deemed “complete” state law requires the City (Planning Director) to render a decision within 60 days. The very limited Del Mar role will be finished.